Philip E. Miller
First Lieutenant, United States Army
First Lieutenant, U.S. Army
718th Air Force Base Unit
Entered the Service from: Oregon
Died: September 8, 1945
Missing in Action or Buried at Sea
Tablets of the Missing at Manila American Cemetery
Sixty years after he was declared missing on a flight over Indonesia, the remains of a Umatilla County (Oregon) man have been found and will get a military burial, his family said.
Lieutenant Philip Miller, then 28, was flying a B-25 when the plane vanished in September of 1945, days after World War II ended.
Sarah Burch, a former Pendleton resident now living in Walla Walla, Washington, said she thought she would never find out what happened to Miller, her first husband.
She recalled hearing the news that he was missing.
"I couldn't really believe it. I kept hoping for a long time he would be found" alive and well, she said last week. "After all these years, I still had dreams about maybe I'd see him again," Burch added.
In September 2001, she got a phone call from the military, which was looking for relatives of Miller for DNA tests.
A B-25 had been found in the mountains of Indonesia in 1995, but because of political unrest U.S. officials weren't able to recover it until years later. They thought it might be Miller's flight.
"I was really shocked. It all came back again," Burch said. "I had thought he was probably lost in the ocean."
In December, she went to California to visit her son and an army official, who told them Miller and eight others on the flight would be buried in Arlington National Cemetery. Burch doesn't know when.
She grew up on a ranch north of Pendleton and met Miller at Pendleton's Methodist church in 1936.
He was working for Oregon's highway department. The couple married in 1937 and both attended Oregon Agricultural College, now Oregon State University.
When he enlisted they were living in Milton-Freewater. Their son was born while Miller was in flight school, and Burch took her 6-week-old son down to see the pilot-in-training.
Burch became a teacher and remarried seven years after the war.
Miller's name is listed on the war dead memorial